Back-to-school excitement really starts waning when you have teenagers.
Don’t get me wrong I’m all hip hip hooray that school is in full swing, but what blows is that all the fun rituals you had when they were little are vanquished like the memories of a school day with recess.
The first one to go is the low-stress crayons, colored pencils and scented glue stick school supply shopping list. No more skipping through the aisles at Target looking for a Thomas the Tank Engine pencil-case and buying your teacher a carton of Kleenex along with a half-gallon of hand sanitizer.
Now, the supply list has the Texas Instruments TI84 graphing calculator on it with a price tag of $90.00. Why in the name of my wallet can’t kids just use their cell phones? There’s a free graphing calculator app that they can download. Again, just in case you missed it, I said free.
Let’s do a math word problem here without the aid of any calculator.
Sherry has already spent $50 on school supplies and paid her child’s high school $235 in “learning resource, activity programming, and technology fees.” Would she rather spend $0 for a calculator or $90? If you answered zero, congratulations! You’re a brainiac.
Then there’s the first day of school picture ritual that starts circling the drain as soon as your kid gets too cool to stand still for a photo or in my case your children claim “image privacy rights.” I really messed up this whole social media thing with my kids. I was a late adopter to digital-over-sharing and because I believed I was being a thoughtful parent I started out asking my kids permission before I ever posted a picture of them on social media.
Well, that blew up in my face.
My son, claiming he wants a clean digital footprint, because he’s sure he’ll have a job that requires the “highest security clearance someday,” allows me to post close to zero photos of him. And my daughter asserts that I take “the worst pictures ever” and declines to have me ever share her image. (In her defense I do take horrible photos.)
This means that last week, after seeing hundreds of adorable back-to-school photos on my newsfeed, I had no choice but to resort to posting a hand drawn picture of my daughter. I thought it would be a wake-up call to her. A “look what I have to do because you are such a photo control freak.”
Sadly, my plan of shaming backfired. My daughter took one look at my stick figure artist rendering and chirped, “It’s a huge improvement over the ones you take with your iPhone.”
What I really miss most about the first day of school is no longer reveling in the joy (and sometimes gaming windfall) that is the “Muffins and Mom” coffee (later changed to Parents and Pastries as a “reflection of our current parenting demographic” or at least that’s what the PTA flyer said.) This is where moms gather in the cafeteria after handing their kids off to their new teacher and catch up with each other about what they did over the summer.
The best thing about my back in the day Muffins and Mom experience was the over-under on what mom would be fake crying the most about school starting. Much like some people do fantasy football teams, about 20 moms would meet a couple of days before school started and get their bets on who would be the biggest boo hooer, who would have the newest boobs, and who would announce they were “taking a break” on the marital front.
After a couple of years we had to change the boo hooer bet to “second biggest boo hooer” since it was too easy to pick who would be the boo hoo queen. The same mom always won and it even seemed scripted. She would enter the cafeteria late, always clutching a handful of Kleenex, and then she would work the room going from mom to mom apologizing for sobbing and then blubber about how she’s going to “miss her baaaabies.”
Fast forward to when I had a child in third grade and the betting pool hit a trifecta. That big boo hooer had the newest breast augmentation and was on a marriage “time out.” Jackpot!
Maybe that’s what I need to do to get over my melancholy of missing those elementary school years — start some kind of new betting pool or game. I’ve got it. Bingo! I can play it this evening at the high school back-to-school night. The center square can be a parent who asks a teacher a question that is really a not so humble brag about their stellar child.
I think I’m feeling better already. 🙂